At UncommonGoods, we’re always excited when we launch a product that in time reveals itself to be a complete game-changer; an overwhelmingly popular product that sheds new light on what makes something a runaway sensation. But every once in a blue moon, we meet a new product that we know will win hearts as soon as it is placed in This Just In. Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn was the latter. From his goofy blue eyes to his chubby little feet, we were smitten and didn’t have any questions as to whether everyone else would share our love for him.
So we decided to take a trip to Pennsylvania to meet Elwood’s creator. By “we” I mean Senior Buyer Candace, Purchasing Planner Maham, and myself, and by “trip” I mean a car ride outside of cell phone service to a place where the streets had no name. Literally, we had to call when we were close so the artist could give us directions that Google couldn’t help us with. We were warmly greeted by ceramicist JoAnn and her spirited team of Mudworks helpers who were eager to show us how our most beloved new product is born. It was easy to fall in love with people as it was to fall in love with their creations so we are excited to share our visit with you.
What are your most essential tools?
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
My inspiration comes from working the clay, and inside my head… that’s where the designs come from.
Where does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Down time??? I am supposed to have down time??? Elwood disagrees! (Though we do have company outings, and frequent lunches where we attempt to take turns making various foods for all to enjoy.)
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
I was never a “young” designer. I started learning to make pottery when I was 40+ years old. The best lesson I learned was the harder you worked, the luckier you got!
What advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Advice to the me of five years ago…learn bookkeeping.
How do you set goals for yourself?
I set goals HIGH… then stretch to reach them.
What quote keeps you motivated?
I don’t have only one quote… there are several: “If you argue for your limitations, then all you get is to keep them.” “Well-behaved women never make history.” “Never teach a pig to sing… it’s a waste of your time and it only annoys the pig.” “Behind every successful woman is a man who’s surprised.” I guess what they all mean to me is that you have to keep going, keep motivated and put your energy where it will do the most good.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
New skills? Every day is an opportunity to learn something, but I am not attending workshops or classes personally.
How do you recharge your creativity?
Vodka, definitely vodka.
Where does collaboration come into play with you craft?
Pottery is one on one, me and the clay. However, when I come up with a new design, I do run it past my crew to see if it will be viable. As an artist, though, I tend to make things I like, things I’d like to have around me.
[…] was never a ‘young’ designer,” she told us when we visited her for a Studio Tour. “I started learning to make pottery when I was 40-plus years old. The best lesson I learned [as […]
[…] Leigh Ann Stratakos, manager of the Facebook accounts for MudWorks Pottery and Elwood the Rainbow Unicorn […]
He’s absolutely beautiful! Do you ever sell custom orders of Elwood? If so, I would love to purchase 100 mugs!
Hi Bekki–Thanks for asking! We’re checking with JoAnn to find out if she and her team have the capacity to make so many custom Elwoods right now. We will let you know when we have an answer.